@MarDixon Passionate about culture. Champion for the next generation of Cultural visitors. Defender of Libraries. Digital, Wearable Tech Enthusiast. Sharing knowledge. Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.
  • What is more influential: the artefact or the story?

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    December 26th, 2013mardixonCulture, International

    I asked this question on Twitter as I read the Museum of London recently ‘retired’ (read that as got rid of) their Story curator after 20 years.  This got me thinking:

    Is having the object more important than telling the story?

    For me, I don’t expect to go to many museums/galleries and understand everything that is in front of me.  I tend to scan a room, see what object was the one that grabbed my attention and go to it.  However when I with someone that has a bit of knowledge then my experience is usually quite different.

    Either way, the objects and paintings that have really good stories are the ones that tend to stay with me the longest (and are the ones I share the most).

    twitterThe following are some of the responses I received on Twitter:

    @RobAroundBooks Indeed. This is why I’m such an advocate of multimedia in museums, in that it can bring artefacts alive in most engaging of ways.

    @LauraAMitchell: @MarDixon you can’t have one without the other. The story behind – with answered, or unanswered questions – brings to life.

    @soundcube: @MarDixon artist POV the making process much more important to me than the what – but it still has to be good quality and articulate story

    @CllrMTucker: @soundcube @MarDixon the archaeologist in me is more fixated on the story.

    @Freerange_Inc: .@MarDixon  interesting to compare this artefact question to the stance of ‘design fiction objects’ that an object can imply its whole world

    @Freerange_Inc: @MarDixon I’d say the object, as its a constant whereas the story translated may vary depending on the interpreter …

    @DianaPitchers: @MarDixon The story, that leads to the artefact itself i.e. origin, craftsmanship & ownership personalises it. Enables people to connect 🙂

    @TinctureOfMuse: @MarDixon with Cheapside Hoard @MuseumofLondon visitors love the mystery and story behind artefacts, they compliment each other

    @JudeVandervelde: @MarDixon story is key – many stories don’t have objects. Absence of object is powerful eg loss of family in Holocaust  and no photos remain

    @NickSherrard: @MarDixon always story

    @JudeVandervelde: @MarDixon fortunate to have first hand testimony. Plan @JewishMuseumLDN to film Survivors with an object – for some no object is poignant

    @Madlena_P: @MarDixon I’m not sure that it is possible to tell stories without artefacts. Artefacts are the core of a museum.

    @Madlena_P: @MarDixon And what is more influential… I can’t choose between them! It depenвs on an object and a story

    @NickSherrard: @MarDixon would you like me to tell you the story of how I came to write that tweet, or show you the phone I wrote it on?

    @zakmensah: @Madlena_P @MarDixon does it matter if the artefact is the original too ?

    @Madlena_P: @zakmensah @MarDixon For the research and science – yes, of course. For interaction… If we don’t say that it is a cope, could one guess?

    @NickSherrard: @MarDixon surprised by answers to your tweet. Artefacts are central to museums but not stories. Stories can be told v well w/out objects.

    @NickSherrard: @MarDixon for that matter artefacts can be beautiful or intriguing or inspiring without stories. Museum ‘storytelling’ can get in the way…

    @dannybirchall: @MarDixon Neither. Context is everything.

    @Ret_uk: @Madlena_P @MarDixon don’t know context but first thought is that a story captures the imagination – however bit of a chicken/egg scenario

    @OwlStory: @MarDixon I see a lot of answers about stories w/out artifacts. Artifacts w/out stories (context) are just as lost (to paraphrase Petrie).

     So how would you answer:  What is more influential the artefact or the story? 

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